Week 11 was just ugly for me personally. I paid down to the Steelers in three of my five lineups hoping the Cincinnati offensive struggles would continue without Ja’Marr Chase and that wasn’t the case. A simple pivot to almost any other team would have yielded better results. But we push onward and upward. We don’t win every week but we just make sure on the weeks we do win, that we win big. So let’s take a look at both the Thanksgiving slate and the Week 12 main slate and dig up some D/ST’s to look at this week.
The NFL DFS Thanksgiving Day slate is always one of my favorite slates every year. It’s a great slate for Tournament lineups and while I normally do just five lineups per week on the Sunday main slate, for Thanksgiving I’ll make 20 lineups. It is worth mentioning, we can get some variance on this slate. It’s a short week for all six teams so don’t be surprised if even the more reliable teams on this slate are a bit rusty and sluggish. The Bills and Lions have the highest total on the slate, but that game is the early bird special on Thanksgiving since it kicks off at 12:30pm ET. So be disciplined with your exposures.
Be sure to check out the rest of the NFL DFS Coaches and DFS Watch List throughout the week!
THANKSGIVING DAY DFS D/ST RANKINGS
The Cowboys sit atop the list for Thursday’s divisional matchup against the Giants because they’re easily the best D/ST available to us and on a three-game slate you shouldn’t have any issues fitting them in if you take some risks in the rest of your build. In ten games this year, the Cowboys have posted double-digit fantasy points in six of them and they lead the league in sacks. Sacks lead to fantasy points and possibly turnovers and if you have the D/ST that pops with a pick six then you’re sitting pretty. Dallas sacked Daniel Jones five times in their previous matchup this season and with the game total sitting at 44.5 points, the Cowboys look primed to pay off their price tag as nine-point favorites.
New England Patriots
This past Sunday we saw the Minnesota Vikings struggle offensively against a good defense as they put up just three points while hosting the Dallas Cowboys. Now they’re in primetime on a short week and we all know the narrative of Kirk Cousins in Primetime. This game currently has the lowest projected total at 42.5 points of the three Thanksgiving games and while the Patriots are three-point underdogs I think we can still justify the mid-range price tag on both sites. The Patriots defense is trending in the right direction. They’ve put up at least nine fantasy points in six of their last seven games. Have the last two games been a bit fluky due to defensive/special teams touchdowns? Sure, but that’s part of the game and while I can’t predict that outcome, we can all agree we want that result when playing a defense. The Patriots are second in the league to only Dallas in terms of sacks and they’ve allowed just 71 points in their last six games, with 33 of those coming against Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears. The Cowboys sacked Cousins seven times last week. I’m optimistic the Patriots can get to him at least four times. The big question is whether they can contain Justin Jefferson. Jefferson is virtually matchup proof as long as Cousins has time to get rid of the ball so he’s still very capable of beating this Patriots secondary.
Truthfully it was a tossup between ranking the Bills and Vikings third, so I’ll trust my guns but it is worth mentioning it was close. On paper, the Bills have probably the best matchup, but it all depends on which Lions team shows up on Turkey Day. The practice reports are going to be big this week. Last Sunday the Bills were without Tre’Davious White (again) and Tremaine Edmunds, but they did get Jordan Poyer back. I’m not overly optimistic either player returns this week, but this portion of the article is being written early Tuesday morning and anything could happen by Thursday. The Bills defense prides itself on their ability to force turnovers. I don’t know how many opportunities there will be for this group considering Jared Goff has attempted exactly 26 pass attempts in four of his last five games and the Lions have seen success running the ball lately with Jamaal Williams. With Poyer back, I feel better about this defense, but I don’t know how much of a ceiling there is for DFS especially if the Buffalo offense gets out to a big lead and the Bills defense takes it easy in garbage time for Detroit.
As I just mentioned, I was very tempted to put the Vikings ahead of the Bills. Why? The Patriots offense just isn’t good. Whether it’s Mac Jones’ underwhelming level of play or the abhorrent play calling courtesy of Matt Patricia. The Patriots offense has just two touchdowns in their last three games. If FanDuel still incorporated the kicker position into their DFS layout, Nick Folk would be a lock from New England, so if you’re playing the Showdown slate for this game you should get him in your builds. The Patriots can move the ball to some degree inside the 20’s, but they suck at getting six points. The Vikings defense isn’t good by any stretch of the imagination. They’ve allowed 375+ passing yards to four of the last five quarterbacks they’ve faced and seven of their ten opponents have scored 22 or more points against them. Their pass rush is okay, and we’ve seen them force turnovers in pairs, but last week was an awfully disappointing showing against Dallas. This is a good matchup against New England that may not provide much of a ceiling, but the floor appears safe.
Believe it or not, I’m more comfortable playing the Lions on Thursday over the Giants and it’s for a few reasons. For starters, the Lions defense has been serviceable the last three weeks. They’ve posted double-digit fantasy points in three straight games with six sacks and seven turnovers in that span. They’ve allowed 57 points in that stretch, but be warned this team gives up a ton of yardage on the ground and through the air. They’re without a doubt the worst in that regard. Their best yardage performance this year was 330 yards to Dallas in Week 7. On five occasions they’ve allowed over 400 yards of offense. Could the Bills put up big numbers? Yes. We’ve seen Buffalo put up big scores and not take their foot off the gas. But as bad as the matchup is we also need to acknowledge that Josh Allen still has some elbow concerns and he currently leads the NFL in turnovers with 13. That’s not a knock on him as a player. He’s a high risk, high reward quarterback but he still can give the ball away. And once again I will absolutely stress that this is a position of variance. I mention it every week in some capacity. The over/under is very high at 54 points, highest on the slate. But it’s a short week for everybody and if the cheap price tag on both sites allows you to allocate money for studs at other positions then by all means pay down and hope for the best. It’s a three-game slate. You need to get a little bold with your roster decisions and feel a bit uncomfortable.
New York Giants
Despite ranking the Giants sixth out of six teams, I’ll get exposure in two lineups if I’m making 20 builds overall on Thursday. The Giants just don’t do anything great. They’re okay in some respects on the defensive side, but they’re not elite anywhere else. They have just 20 sacks and a dozen turnovers in just ten games. These two teams met in Week 3 and the Giants D/ST returned zero fantasy points and on the season they’ve hit double-digit fantasy points just once. I’m guessing they’ll probably be the D/ST rostered the least in most Cash and Tournament lineups for Thursday. Yes, I see folks taking the cheaper discount on the Lions to open up salary over playing the Giants who only have four turnovers and seven sacks in their last four games. There’s an argument to be made as a leverage play because they could pop off with a touchdown. At best, they’re worth a sprinkle if building multiple lineups.
NFL SUNDAY MAIN SLATE
NFL DFS D/ST TOP TIER
The Dolphins check a lot of boxes this week. At home? Check. Big favorites? Check. Well rested? Check. Good matchup? Check. Let’s not forget Miami’s home-road splits either. They perform much better at home where they carry a significant advantage due to the humidity and the opposing team’s sideline sitting in the sunlight all game and it’s shown in their defensive splits. In five games at home the Dolphins have 14 sacks and eight forced turnovers compared to just six sacks and zero takeaways on the road. They also only give up 15 points per game at home while they surrender over 30 points per game away from South Florida. The Texans offense has averaged just 14.3 points per game in their last three games and they’ve alluded to a change at quarterback with Davis Mills struggling so much so this matchup is ripe for DFS on Sunday.
We continue the Week `12 main slate preview by grasping at the low hanging fruit. The lone concern is that the Broncos will be on the road, but it’s too tasty of a matchup to ignore just because of the scheduling. The Broncos get the privilege of playing the Carolina Panthers this week and we know we can expect DFS rewards here, but the Panthers will be going with their third different starting quarterback in the last three weeks with Sam Darnold set to take the field on Sunday. Vegas has the Broncos favored by a field goal as of Wednesday morning and the projected total is around 36 points, one of the lowest totals you’ll see all year. It is worth noting that in two games since trading Bradley Chubb, the Broncos have just a pair of sacks and they’ve forced only one takeaway. They haven’t really provided the best DFS ceiling to take down a Tournament, so while I don’t think they’re a fade you don’t need to go overboard with exposure. But the Panthers are such a mess on the offensive side of the ball. They’re last in yards per game (286.1), 25th in points per game (18.8), and Carolina punts the ball 5.1 times per game, which is fifth-most in the league. The price tag on FanDuel is much more palpable than the price on DraftKings.
San Francisco 49ers
Not my favorite D/ST to spend up for this week, but a strong play nonetheless. As the 49ers get a little more healthy we’re seeing better play from this group. They’ve allowed just 40 points total in their last three games and kept the Cardinals in check last week. The Saints are a bit of a wild card truth be told. Taysom Hill is a threat if the Saints decide to put the ball in his hands, but that isn’t all that often. But this is a home game and the 49ers are nine-point favorites with plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball to give New Orleans fits.
NFL DFS D/ST MID TIER
New York Jets
Another week, another mention of the New York Jets but I will preface this by saying I’m not in love with the price tag on FanDuel. They’re the most expensive team over there while they’re just $3,300 on DraftKings. The Jets have a few things going for them this week, similar to the Miami Dolphins: they’re at home, they’re big favorites, and it’s a favorable matchup with Justin Fields popping up on the injury report with his weird shoulder injury that is keeping him day-to-day, but it could also be season ending? For this week at least, we have to entertain the Jets if Fields sits out. New York only has four takeaways in their last four games, but two of those games were against New England and Denver and neither of those teams are lighting it up with an aerial attack. But the Jets still have an elite secondary and they’ve provided one of the best floors for DFS lately. In their last seven games they’ve returned at least seven points on DraftKings with double-digit points in four of those games. They’ve been doing a great job keeping opposing teams from running up the score and they have 17 sacks in their last three games. I love them in all formats on DraftKings especially if Justin Fields has to miss some time.
Kansas City Chiefs
Here’s another team that is likely too expensive on FanDuel, but very much in play on DraftKings at just $2,800. The projected total is at 44 points, but the Chiefs are massive 14-point favorites against the Rams. Matthew Stafford is back in concussion protocol and the Rams will once again be without Cooper Kupp. It’s unclear as of Wednesday who will start Sunday for the Rams, but regardless we can target the Chiefs D/ST on DraftKings. The Chiefs have 18 sacks in their last three games and this is a matchup where the Rams could seriously struggle with any form of production. Monitor the quarterback situation for Los Angeles heading into Sunday but we should be considering the Chiefs regardless of who starts.
NFL DFS D/ST VALUE TIER
I don’t want to completely sleep on the Titans this week simply because they’re playing the Bengals who played incredibly well on Sunday. The Titans are getting some extended rest having played on Thursday for Week 11, but they were trending in the right direction prior to the game against the Packers and I expect a better defensive effort with the extra days off. The Titans are at home despite being slight underdogs and they’ve been very tough to run on in their last seven games and that’s translated to fewer points being scored by opposing offenses. Assuming the Bengals will be without Joe Mixon on Sunday, that’s an added bonus for the Titans who likely won’t have to account for Ja’Marr Chase either. They’ve allowed 17 or fewer points in five of their last six games so they’re perfectly in play for Tournaments. Update: On Wednesday, Joe Burrow did say that he expects Chase to play on Sunday so keep that on your radar until inactives come out Sunday morning.
I will be honest and say that I probably won’t be going here. I don’t love the value options this week aside from Tennessee on FanDuel. But if you need a salary saver on DraftKings then I’d consider the Jaguars over the likes of the Raiders, Saints, Rams, and Texans. However, I would prefer getting up to the Chiefs at $2,800. But if you need an argument for the Jaguars you can take a little comfort in this being a home game where they’ve collected a dozen sacks in five games compared to four sacks in as many games on the road. Additionally, they give up nine fewer points per game at home and about 95 fewer yards on offense. The Ravens are a bit beat up offensively, but Mark Andrews showed signs of life last week after being hobbled the previous couple weeks. Lamar Jackson is a threat on the ground as always, but we haven’t really seen a true “ceiling” game from him since Week 3. So if you think the Jaguars can contain this offense, and it’s possible, then this is a “break glass in case of emergency” kind of play.
NFL DFS D/ST FADE
Call me crazy, but I will fade the Seahawks at home. Is there a ton of confidence here? No, but there are some things that concern me. Derek Carr isn’t hitting his ceiling of late, but he hasn’t turned it over the last three games either and he’s performed a little better on the road this year compared to at home. Seattle gives up the fifth-most rushing yards per game so it’s a great matchup for Josh Jacobs if the Raiders keep it on the ground. And as always, Davante Adams is a great play since he has hit his stride of late with five touchdowns in his last three games. The Raiders might be a bit of an eyesore and a disappointment, but the offense is at least trending in the right direction and it’s enough to give me pause regarding the Seahawks defense.